Philip Evans was working for glazing specialist London Fenestration Trades Ltd, which was contracted by principal contractor Sir Robert McAlpine to undertake remedial repair works to a glass façade above a department store entrance in Princess Hay, Exeter on 9th November 2011.
While a colleague worked on a higher part of the curtain wall from a mobile working platform, Mr Evans worked from the glass canopy to attach the lower fixings. During the course of this work, he walked along the canopy from right to left and fell through an opening above the Bedford Street entrance of the Debenhams store.
During a prosecution brought by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE), Exeter Crown Court heard that the opening had been created during previous maintenance works when a pane of glass was removed from the canopy and had not been replaced.
Mr Evans, from Penarth, fell approximately 4.5 metres through the canopy on to the granite setts below. He was seriously injured and died later in hospital.
The subsequent HSE investigation found that the Niftylift mobile elevating work platform provided was inadequate for the work being carried out. The glass canopy on which Mr Evans was working was not a safe working platform as there was no edge protection and there was the large opening through which he subsequently fell. The court was also told that neither of the two workers should have left the safety of the working platform basket.
HSE inspector Jonathan Harris said: “The risks associated with work at height are very well known and recognised in readily available guidance. Planning and effective coordination between contractors is a requirement of the relevant safety regulations. Without such planning and sufficient assessment of risk, it is foreseeable that working at height will expose operatives to risks to their safety.
“In this case Mr Evans was working from an unsafe position which exposed him to the potential of falling from the edge of the glass canopy as well as the opening through which he tragically fell.”
Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd of Yorkshire House, Grosvenor Crescent, London pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3 (1) of HSWA 1974. It was fined £200,000 with £17,790 costs
London Fenestration Trades Ltd of Clare Road, Grangetown, Cardiff pleaded guilty Section 2 (1) HSWA 1974. However, as the firm is in liquidation the court could only notionally fine it £200,000 with £17,790 costs.